September 30 2023
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu tried “more than 100%” to fight for the victory today in Race 1 at the Autodromo do Algarve (Portimão) but ultimately crossed the line in second place at the penultimate round of the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship.
The “morning star” was Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK teammate Andrea Locatelli who surprised with a super strong third-fastest qualifying lap in Superpole. The Italian served a back-of-the-grid penalty in Race 1 (from an Aragon infringement), but was through to P15 in just two corners from 24th place and pushed on to recover to P9 by the chequered flag. He will be able to start from his well-earned front row position in the Superpole Race tomorrow morning.
Razgatlıoğlu qualified just behind “Loka” in fourth position – promoted to the front row for Race 1 in place of the #55 Yamaha R1 WorldSBK – and capitalised immediately to take the holeshot into Turn 1 and lead the opening lap. A tactic to settle in behind the Kawasaki of Alex Lowes on Lap 2 to preserve tyre life wouldn’t last for long, as a hectic four-way battle commenced with four-abreast braking into Turn 1 on Lap 4, forcing Razgatlıoğlu to push through to the front once more.
After a few laps of serious fighting, in the end it was a familiar story as Alvaro Bautista used the strengths of his package to full effect – utilising a drive advantage off the final corner onto the long main straight at the end of Lap 8 to take the lead and command the race, despite relentless pressure from Razgatlıoğlu and his R1.
With 52 points separating Razgatlıoğlu from the leader, there is still a mathematical chance to take the title fight to the final round in Jerez – as long as the deficit does not grow to 62 points or more at the end of tomorrow afternoon. The Teams’ Championship is also still open between Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK and Aruba Racing.
WorldSBK is back on track with Warm-Up at 9:00 BST (GMT+1) in the morning, Superpole Race at 11:10 and Race 2 at 14:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SP: P4 / Race 1: P2
“In qualifying, I did a good lap time but for me it’s not enough to start in P4 – but in the race also we started well and a little bit fighting with Alvaro but the pace was very strong. Every lap I keep pushing a lot, more than 100% to try for the best position – all corners I am coming step-by-step but it’s not easy. In the last laps I am feeling the rear grip drop and I was waiting for Alvaro’s rear tyre to drop as well to have a chance to attack, but it did not happen. Every lap I got closer but last corner and in the straight he is too strong. But, we understand something now and I think tomorrow in Superpole everyone will enjoy, I will push more than 100% again and try to win.”
Andrea Locatelli – SP: P3 / Race 1: P9
“It was for sure a difficult Race 1! Especially in the first couple of laps, with the slipstream and the wind pushing on the braking point in Turn 1, it was not easy to stop the bike. So, I think we lost a little bit the opportunity to fight with the front group and potentially to finish in the top five. The rhythm was not so bad though! Now we look forward to another two chances tomorrow because we did a really good job in the qualifying and will start from P3 in the Superpole Race. We need to be proud of this and look forward. We’re working a lot from Friday and today to improve the bike, and now I have a really good feeling with my R1. I am really happy and feeling confident from my ability to fight with the front group for qualifying, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow – especially in the long race.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“Honestly, winning is always the target – which is why all the top teams and manufacturers are here – but today, Toprak and his R1’s performance simply has to be applauded. Absolutely nothing was left out on the track in his quest to beat the Bautista and Ducati package, and he kept him under an incredible amount of pressure and nearly made it happen. Kudos to Toprak and his team for a fantastic performance. Loka’s race was always going to be difficult from last place on the grid following the Aragon penalty, but from 24th to 15th on the first lap set him up nicely for a well-judged comeback to ninth. Tomorrow he starts from his brilliant qualifying result of third and we expect him to be in the mix with the fastest guys.”